Auction Watch: Ultra Rare Patek Philippe Ref. 1563 in Yellow Gold

$890,000 – $1.55 million pre-auction est…1/3 known to exist…”Duke Ellington” Patek…

UPDATE:  SOLD for $1.57 million on Nov 11, 2013

Patek Philippe Ref 1563 Dial

This superb and extremely rare Patek Philippe Ref 1563 is one of only three examples known publicly to exist.   Although it will likely sell for more than $1 million — perhaps closer to if not more than $1.5 million – it will likely be surpassed in its sales price by another exceptional Patek Philippe, a Ref 2499 in pink gold which is the headline piece of Christie’s upcoming “Important Watches” auction in Geneva.

Yes, Eric Clapton’s drop-dead-gorgeous platinum Ref 2499 sold for $3.6 million at this same auction last year (a watch I profiled in-depth at the time), but this year’s event, though lacking the “star power” of Eric Clapton, really will be an amazing auction event for watch collectors.  I estimate that there are ten Patek’s that are each capable of fetching in excess of a half million dollars.  But as usual, there is so little time and so many watches, so let’s take a look at this Patek Ref. 1563, shall we? By the way, I’ve got the FULL story on the 1563 (and it includes more Eric Clapton), below.

Patek Philippe Ref. 1563 in Yellow Gold

Pre-Sale Estimate:  $890,000 – $1.55 million

One of three known examples to exist

Manufactured 1947; last sale June 3, 1950

Patek Philippe Ref 1563

35mm yellow gold case, metal dust cover, silvered dial, luminous Breguet numerals, outer railway five minute divisions and outer tachometer scale, two subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30 minutes register, circular water-resistant-type case, screw back, two round chronograph buttons in the band, 18K gold Patek Philippe buckle, case, dial and movement signed

Patek Philippe Ref 1563 Dial Zoom

According to Christie’s and others, the Patek Reference 1563, produced in the 1940’s, is also known among astute collectors as the Duke Ellington chronograph because the Jazz legend once owned one of the three examples known to exist.

The Duke Ellington Ref. 1563

The actual Reference 1563 owned by Duke Ellington has changed hands a few times.  With case No. 630551, it was purchased by Mr. Ellington on July 28, 1948 while on a trip to Switzerland, at Patek Philippe’s Geneva boutique.  Mr. Ellington paid for the sum of 1’940 Francs for this gorgeous watch…hard to believe, isn’t it?  Then it was sold by Antiquorum almost precisely 40 years later (June 20, 1998) for $673,500 (against an also now laughable pre-sale estimate of $150,000 – $180,000), and then again in 2002.  The Duke Ellington Ref. 1563 is now on display in Geneva’s prestigious Patek Philippe Museum.  Now wouldn’t you know it, I have it on good word that none other than Eric Clapton himself was bidding against Patek Philippe for the piece!


The second Patek Ref. 1563, with case number case number 630552, was last sold (as best I can tell) in 2010 by Christie’s, it fetched a tidy sum of $1.128 million.


The third and present reference 1563, though not of such jazzy provenance (sorry, I couldn’t avoid the pun), is a remarkable example in its own right given its Breguet-numerals dial which also happen to be luminous.  Also, Patek split-second chronographs (generally cased with the Ref. 1436) with a waterproof case and round push buttons are extremely rare.  Christie’s notes the case as being “well preserved, with strong definition to the bezel, lugs and screw back, a beautiful satiné finish to the sides, original pushers and crown as well as crisp hallmarks to the band and lower left lug.”

With the “Duke Ellington” Ref 1563 now beyond the reach of collectors in the Patek Philippe Museum and only one other known to exist, this watch represents a unique opportunity to acquire a truly rare and desirable Patek.

I’ll update this post-sale…stay tuned!

Christie's LogoFull Lot Notes HERE>>>

Photos: Christie’s

Auction Times (Geneva)

  • Nov 11, 10:00am, Lots 51-193
  • Nov 11, 3:00pm, Lots 194-406

Sale Location

  • Christie’s Saleroom
    Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva